Posted by: | January 12, 2009 | Comments Off on Culture…

In the first article the author establishes something from the very beginning and is that culture is ordinary, and he also relates culture to society, how they are made of common meanings and directions. He also seems disappointed about the path that …

What’s culture?

Posted by: | January 12, 2009 | Comments Off on What’s culture?

Culture is a system of meaning shared between people.  Culture is not inborn. People have to learn the values and norms of the society in which they are living. Sometimes we associate culture with “being cultivated” but as Williams asserts in his article, “culture is ordinary”. Culture is both high and popular culture but there is also many sub or counter cultures inside one particular culture. The culture of one particular country is not learnt only in museums but also in the street. Culture is shaped and negotiated among and between people. Keesing emphasizes this point in his article: people often want to naturalize, reify culture but culture is above all shaped by people. Culture is produced by people, that is why culture is “ordinary”. However, there is an important link between culture and power. Williams emphasizes this point speaking about the mass culture financed by advertising. The financing of culture is a burning issue and there are many other questions around this issue like: profitability or spirit independence. These two texts both emphasize the production of culture. Culture is a system of beliefs which conditions people’s behavior so it could be a way to manipulate or control people.

The two articles focus on the construction of “the other” who is excluded from the dominant culture. Most of the time, each human society defines its culture in opposition with the other ones. However, it is worth noticing that each culture appropriates elements of other cultures. Culture is a process and it is not fixed but it evolves. For instance tea is Chinese but it is viewed as a part of English culture. Western cultures define other cultures as exotic, they shape an “exotic other” but they also shape this other in their own culture, calling it “the mass”. The other is constructed as different. Williams’ article is very interesting because he speaks about the people access to culture. I agree with him and I do not think that we could assert that some people, “the mass”, are excluded from culture. It is true that it is more difficult for what we called “the mass”, the non-dominant class, to have a good education, to go to the university but they shape their own sub-culture, their own codes which is also culture. I do not think there is one dominant culture and then no other culture or people excluded from this dominant culture. I do believe in sub-cultures.

What is culture?

Posted by: | January 12, 2009 | Comments Off on What is culture?

Out of the two articles assigned for this week, I found Keesing’s assessment of the term "culture" much more compelling than Williams’ article.  However, I think this is largely a result of the historical context of each article.  I’m a little confused about the date of publication of the first article, but I think it was written in the late 1950’s to early 1960’s.  This would explain the author’s fixation with Marxism and his constant juxtaposition of working-class culture with elite culture in England.  When this article is viewed in a historical context, I find Williams’ criticism of "culture" fairly compelling, yet there seem to be some elements of hypocrisy.  Primarily in the author’s initial description of the "teashop" and its association with an elevated "cultivated people."  Here, Williams is describing a frustration with the use of the term "culture" in parallel to the term "cultivated" and therefore "educated" (translation: elite).   After explaining his rejection of the term "culture" in this context, he goes on to describe a vision of English culture to which everyone contributes and where cultural meanings are negotiated.  However, the author also refers to a new and "cheapened" version of culture which he links to advertising in mass media.  This type of culture the author proposes to replace with a better, more developed culture of  the future.  I find that Williams’ allegations that popular culture as represented by the mass media is a low and cheapened culture to be akin to the elitism of the teashop use of "culture."  It seems to me that the author holds some nostalgia for his former days as a boy in rural England and the type of "culture" he saw in this setting and this is (in some fashion) is what he would like to impose upon the "new" developing culture of the time.  

In reference to Keesing’s article, I agree for the most part that anthropology has been centered around a quest for the "Other" and an emphasis on difference.  Honestly, I don’t have much to say other than that!  I’ve read a lot of similiar articles in Latin American Studies concerning anthropology and the exoticizing of non-western cultures so I suppose that this article doesn’t propose much that is new information for me. 
Sorry I don’t have more to contribute!

What is Culture?

Posted by: | January 11, 2009 | Comments Off on What is Culture?

I was thrown off by the concept of radical alterity according to Keesing’s article.  I do believe that in the past and frequently nowadays, anthropologists have tried to label other people living in different regions of the world as “others”, speciall…

What is culture?

Posted by: | January 11, 2009 | Comments Off on What is culture?

What is Culture? Honestly I found the first reading “Culture is Ordinary” by Raymond Williams difficult to understand and to follow. The only part that really drew me in was when he started to use his personal anecdotes of his life before becoming …

whats culture?

Posted by: | January 10, 2009 | Comments Off on whats culture?

What is culture?The first article in my opinion was difficult to understand. I am not sure but I think that for the author education is an important aspect of a culture, and in this article for the case of London. I think that the author says that if p…

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